In Dusk We Trust - Some Owling in Co.Durham, North East England, Great Britain
Leucistic Little Owl image copyright Hilary Chambers, Durham.

Friday, 23 January 2015

Owl snippets

Highlights on This week:-
Located 2 trees a mile apart, both showing signs of occupancy by BO, which isn't currently a known territory.
LO bolting into Barnie box when Buzzard landed in the same tree.
Single afternoon visit in passing, saw LO SEO & LEO all viewed from public footpaths at Ye Olde Meadowlands of Raynton.
Opportunistic TO dining on Snipe- more on this when I can upload pics.
Bigg Luggs 'singing' at 2 sites this week.
Unusual find in open country was a regular TO hunting perch, half a dozen pellets under 1 tree, way to small to offer any scope for roosting.

Sunday, 18 January 2015

Familiarity breeds...

Ive wandered around OFFH (on foot from home) on & off for a decade.
Winter is The Season here, we're Spoilt rotten. The Five, along with another 105 bird species by the end of January means there's always something to look for.
This year I thought I'd pay attention to some lesser known paths & see what surprises lay unfound.
Despite strong coverage, we still manage to turn up new pairs of Leos every couple of years, & keep an open mind as landscapes change & evolve.
However, a seemingly conspicuous & easily located bird like Little Owl.... well you'd presume they were all bagged & tagged by now...
Close to the very well known Bog, there are several Parts unknown & these have looked "super-owly" in passing.
 A recent recce found asio pellets along the fenceline & a single Bigg Luggs in Elderscrub close by.
The same visit produced a Woodcock feeding out in the open, which I managed to photograph. (link below).
This "finding" is what motivates me & I planned to come back over.
A week later & I was back in the same area, I had a Jack Snipe on the ground, but stepped back to enable a photo & put up another which i nearly trod on. Both vanished...
Surely a good omen, Woodcock last time, Jack Snipe this - I dreamed of a big Leo roost along the way...
The woods proved to be not so fruitful & I headed up a hedgerow. Approaching a fine Ash I looked up to be met with a very disgruntled Little Owl. His mate sat in a crack in the next tree along.
You could have blown me over, I've been past here with the family & never gave it a glance - what a surprise a new pair of Littles.
With 50 or more pairs in this 10km sq, I thought we'd found a good few, especially pleased with this being only about a mile or so from home.
I managed a digi-binned picture & its gone down well on Flickr with 9,000 views in a few days !"

So hopefully there'll be less familiarity & more owls in the coming year.

Friday, 9 January 2015

2015. All 5 NYD.

New Years morning, in position in good time. As the night began to slip away, a Hunting Barn Owl the very first bird I saw, the perfect start. Little Owls called sharply, with the top of a telegraph pole being a vantage point for one. To the SW, the sky was black & a short jog to the edge of the reserve was timed to perfection as the male Long-eared cruised into view, wing clapping as he approached his plantation.
"The 5" was certainly on the cards after a faultless start. However, no sooner had the Leo evaporated when the morning became darker as the sky first few spots of rain fell.
The East was brighter, this route taking me away from the Short-eareds... A Staked out Tawny in an ornamental Cypress was an easy addition - Owl number 4 seen well before 9AM.
The thought crossed my mind to double back for #5.... but these would wait.

In the end Short-eared was the final bird of the day - amazingly waiting a good ten mins after the light had gone before they set out to hunt.

A cracking day, 79 species & only the third time I've seen The 5 on a NYD.